Tens of Thousands Misdemeanor Warrants Dismissed

Misdemeanor probation officers in Georgia are responsible for making sure people convicted of offenses such as DUI, shoplifting, and some domestic-violence offenses complete court-ordered classes or pay restitution.  But for the last fourteen years, private companies in Georgia have been supervising low-level misdemeanor offenders, claiming it freed up overburdened state probation workers while costing taxpayers nothing.  However, despite these assertions, records show that the industry has pocketed large fees while not always succeeding at supervising the probationers due to a practice known as “tolling.”

For years now, people in Georgia who didn’t have the means to pay court fines for minor offenses, such as, illegal lane change, stop sign violations, drunken driving or trespassing, incurred harsh fees by private probation companies.  If a probationer failed to pay their fees, tolling would occur—that is, a customary practice of issuing an arrest warrant by private probation companies and extending an offender’s probation sentence.   And once these offenders are arrested and jailed for owing money to the company—and not the courts—they have ultimately burdened taxpayers with footing the bill anyhow.

With more than 500,000 Georgians on probation last year, Georgia has a rate that is quadruple the national average.  Unsurprisingly, Georgia also uses private probation companies more than any other state in the country.  Tolling has been so lucrative that these for-profit companies collected about $40 million in fees a year alone.

But significant change is on the horizon.  A recent decision by the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that although it is constitutional for the state to rely on private companies to supervise misdemeanor offenders, it is illegal for courts to lengthen a probationer’s sentence after it’s been imposed.  This decision invalidates tens of thousands of arrest warrants for people accused of failing to complete their misdemeanor probation requirements and could allow Georgians who had their sentences extended to try to get back fees they paid for unauthorized time.

These companies are supervising about 200,000 misdemeanor probationers statewide.  That means that for-profit companies supervise approximately 80 percent of Georgians on misdemeanor probation.

If you or a loved one has had a probation warrant resulting from a misdemeanor, this decision may provide new options.  As such, it is important to retain an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer that understands the subtleties and nuances of the criminal justice system.  If you would like to have your misdemeanor probation warrant examined, please call the law offices of Pak & McRae Law LLC to examine your options.

The following two tabs change content below.

Pak & McRae Law

At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

Latest posts by Pak & McRae Law (see all)

%d bloggers like this: